Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Backed Senate candidate wins election after controversy in Mississippi

Backed Senate candidate wins election after controversy in Mississippi

Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith overcame criticism for comments she made about a "public hanging" to defeat former U.S. Rep. and Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy in a Senate runoff election in Mississippi Tuesday.

Hyde-Smith's victory, coming after her comments about joining a supporter on the front row of a public hanging, bolsters the Republican majority in the Senate and illustrates President Donald Trump's ability to rally his supporters behind a struggling campaign.

However, fearful Republicans scrambled on Monday to prevent Hyde-Smith from losing the Senate seat, prompting President Donald Trump to hold rallies in the state for Hyde-Smith in the hope of turning out his base to vote for her.

"Congratulations to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith on your big WIN in the Great State of Mississippi. We are all very proud of you!" he tweeted.

With 76 percent of precincts reporting, Hyde-Smith led with 56 percent of the vote, to 44 percent for Espy.

Mississippi-which still has the Confederate battle emblem on its state flag-has a history of racially motivated lynchings.

"I will work very hard and do my very best to make MS very proud", she added, reports The Associated Press.

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If elected, Espy would be the first black person elected to the Senate from the state since the era of Reconstruction. The sign also read: "We need someone who respects the lives of lynch victims". "I'll vote for Mrs.

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Hyde-Smith was also recorded earlier in November telling another joke in which she suggested liberals should have their votes suppressed. She initially called the public hanging remark "an exaggerated expression of regard".

According to ballotpedia.org, the runoff decides through a secondary primary election which of the top candidates from the first primary election will be elected to office.

U.S. media projected that Hyde-Smith would defeat her black challenger in a campaign that recalled the state's history of racist violence. The last Democrat Mississippians elected to the Senate from the state was John Stennis in 1982 for the final term of his four-decade career in the chamber.

Asked about her remark in a debate, Hyde-Smith said she would "certainly apologize" to anyone who was offended, but then pivoted to an attack on her opponent.

Espy, meanwhile, would have become Mississippi's first black senator since the era of Reconstruction. Gov. Phil Bryant appointed her to the seat in April to succeed the resigning Thad Cochran. But in reality, racism won as the state's citizens cast ballots for a woman who has made no secret of her affinity for white supremacy.

But supporters called the reaction overblown and said Hyde-Smith did not intend anything racist by it.

The runoff contest drew comparisons to the Alabama Senate special election a year ago, when Democrat Doug Jones won a narrow victory against Roy Moore, after the Republican faced multiple accusations from women that he had molested them when they were teenagers. Unfortunately for him, the African-American vote did not come out in large enough numbers to give him an upset victory, and he did not score well enough among white voters. She later sent her daughter to a similar school. "And I'm really sorry they bought into that", she said. "Mississippi history at its best!" she wrote in the post. And she strategically avoided press questions as Espy's campaign criticized her for the comments.

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